Lust in the Dust

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Lucy Mannion’s troubles begin when she awakes in a dimly lit tent somewhere in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Dahman. The petite English secretary quickly realizes that she’s been drugged and kidnapped by Sheikh Hakim Bin Taimur Al Fulani, a man “so outrageously exotic and arrogantly masculine that his presence seemed to fill the tent and overpower her.”

This sizzling scene is taken from Stolen by the Sheik, one of a subset of romance novels in which Western women find love after being importuned by sexy Arab potentates. While publishers insist that the appeal of sheikh-themed romances (such as Harlequin’s The Sheik Who Loved Me, Expecting the Sheik’s Baby, and Hide-and-Sheikh) has no connection to our current entanglement in the Middle East, the popularity of the genre seems to be growing. For Erika Wittlieb, a Canadian fan who reads all 15 to 30 that are published each year, tales of seduction by oil-drenched oligarchs offer “a pleasant escape for a few hours with a guaranteed happy ending.”

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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